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Caltech Creates Electronic Nose

ScuttleMonkey posted about 7 years ago | from the smells-like dept.

Biotech 154

eldavojohn writes "Researchers have created an electronic nose that can detect odor and identify which odors are a concern to it. From the article, 'The Lewis Group a division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Caltech have a working model of an electronic nose. The efforts of Caltech scientists has led to an array of simple, readily fabricated chemically sensitive conducted polymer film. An array of broadly-cross reactive sensors respond to a variety of odors. However, the pattern of differential responses across the array produces a unique pattern for each odorant. The electronic nose can identify, classify and quantify when necessary the vapor or odor that poses a concern or threat.'"

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Pull my finger... (-1, Redundant)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 7 years ago | (#21082453)

I for one, welcome our new olfactory overlords.

Re:Pull my finger... (0, Redundant)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | about 7 years ago | (#21082505)

I for one, welcome the sweet smell of their victory over the old Evil *insert your meme here* Overlords!

Re:Pull my finger... (1, Funny)

somersault (912633) | about 7 years ago | (#21082581)

Whoever smell'd it dealt it

Re:Pull my finger... (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 7 years ago | (#21082641)

Whoever made the rhyme did the crime.

(as my son gleefully informed us the other day)

Re:Pull my finger... (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 7 years ago | (#21082757)

Whoever smell'd it dealt it
____

I'll wait for the inexpensive fart detector to tell the dealer.

Re:Pull my finger... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21083125)

"Smelt", not "smell'd", you retard. It has to rhyme with "dealt".

Re:Pull my finger... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21082597)

Great. Now not only can we tell if the crapper in the frat house is occupied through the frat LAN, we'll know who's in it.

Why fix what isn't broken? (4, Informative)

TheTopher (879626) | about 7 years ago | (#21082475)

As a student at Caltech in Prof. Nate Lewis' Chemistry class, I feel obligated to ask why the correct spelling of "Caltech" from the article was converted into the incorrect spellings of "CalTech" and "Cal Tech"? I realize that we don't conform to the usual abbreviation for Tech schools but it's a "little t" for "Caltech"

Re:Why fix what isn't broken? (-1, Offtopic)

gingerTabs (532664) | about 7 years ago | (#21082591)

As a student at Caltech in Prof. Nate Lewis' Chemistry class, I feel obligated to ask why the correct spelling of "Caltech" from the article was converted into the incorrect spellings of "CalTech" and "Cal Tech"? I realize that we don't conform to the usual abbreviation for Tech schools but it's a "little t" for "Caltech"
That's realise

Re:Why fix what isn't broken? (0, Offtopic)

satoshi1 (794000) | about 7 years ago | (#21082613)

Realize is a word, buddy.

Re:Why fix what isn't broken? (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | about 7 years ago | (#21082737)

Only if you're American ;)

TBH I don't think most of us can tell the difference with capitalisation, or don't care. There's various other things like the MOD/DOD that shouldn't be capitalised in certain ways, but people still do.

As for the nose, how do they know that what is smells is correct? Surely it's a bit like colour in that it is entirely subjective as to how it is represented: does everyone see red in the same way as I do? Do roses smell the same to everyone? That means they've either made a chemical sensor with a lookup table or they've made one hell of a clever robot that can perceptualise and abstract away from the chemicals to the 'actual' smell.

Not that it's not an achievement to make a chemical sensor for smells, just that it might not be quite the same as a nose.

Re:Why fix what isn't broken? (1, Funny)

baldass_newbie (136609) | about 7 years ago | (#21082785)

Only if you're American ;)
Is there another country that speaks English?

Re:Why fix what isn't broken? (1)

teslar (706653) | about 7 years ago | (#21083581)

As for the nose, how do they know that what is smells is correct? Surely it's a bit like colour in that it is entirely subjective as to how it is represented: does everyone see red in the same way as I do? Do roses smell the same to everyone?
No, this is not subjective. The same rose will give off the same chemicals regardless of who does the smelling. The same colour red has always the same wavelength regardless of who does the looking. Differences in perception only start in the brain (and sensory organs) but we can still have a clear definition of 'smells like roses' in terms of constitutent chemicals and 'is red' in terms of wavelength.

How the electronic nose really 'perceives' this is of lesser importance as long as it can reliably and correctly identify the odours and tell us about them. So you can easily test that the nose works like you expect by exposing it to random mixes of odours and compare the response of the nose to the (known) actual composition of the odour.

Re:Why fix what isn't broken? (1)

Threni (635302) | about 7 years ago | (#21083613)

> As for the nose, how do they know that what is smells is correct? Surely it's a bit like colour in that it is entirely subjective as to how it is
> represented: does everyone see red in the same way as I do? Do roses smell the same to everyone? That means they've either made a chemical sensor
> with a lookup table or they've made one hell of a clever robot that can perceptualise and abstract away from the chemicals to the 'actual' smell.

Surely you can stick something in front of the nose, have it tell you what it is, and that way you'll confirm that you share perceptions with whoever trained the nose!

Re:Why fix what isn't broken? (1)

TheTopher (879626) | about 7 years ago | (#21082665)

I get the joke but the situation here is that "Caltech" is the official abbreviation of the Institute's name. It's as accurate as referring to MIT as MassTech.

Re:Why fix what isn't broken? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21083985)

No, MassTech is likely to cause confusion with people thinking it means a different school. No one is going to think Caltech and CalTech are referring to different schools.

Re:Why fix what isn't broken? (1)

sco08y (615665) | about 7 years ago | (#21083009)

Wait... a student of *the* Prof. Nate Lewis of *that* Caltech?

I feel obliged, I mean obligated, to ask, can I have your autograph?

Re:Why fix what isn't broken? (-1, Flamebait)

SomeGuyTyping (751195) | about 7 years ago | (#21083063)

as an asshole on slashdot, I feel abligated to answer your question. The spelling was changed because the poster hates you for the whiny little bitch you are.

Re:Why fix what isn't broken? (1)

DerCed (155038) | about 7 years ago | (#21083199)

Because everyone understands it anyway? It's really not that much of a big deal, mate.

Re:Why fix what isn't broken? (1)

drerwk (695572) | about 7 years ago | (#21083895)

As an alumnus I like to point out why the Cal Tech usage is in addition to being wrong, also confusing. Cal, when used to refer to institutions of higher learning in California, always(?) refers to either the University of California e.g. Cal Berkeley, Cal(R) Bears, http://calbears.cstv.com/ [cstv.com] or to one of the California State University campuses http://www.calstate.edu/ [calstate.edu] with particular attention to Cal Poly. I sure wish I had a Cal Poly sweatshirt given the number of times people have confused Caltech and Cal Poly. In any case, Caltech is in neither the Cal State University System, nor the University of California System.

Artificial Nose (3, Interesting)

sqrt(2) (786011) | about 7 years ago | (#21082481)

I've always thought it interesting that creating an artificial nose (sense of smell) has lagged so far behind the other senses. Vision, that's easy, cameras have sharper resolution than our pathetic biological eyes. Hearing, again, sensitivity of microphones has easily surpassed human ability. There's the sense of touch, but we can cheat and make sensors that detect resistance to motion, being able to feel and discern texture is harder however. Sense of smell is probably the most abstracted and subjective, so it's no wonder it's the most difficult to replicate with technology. Most of the artificial "nose" tech is just checking for the presence of certain chemicals in the air.

Re:Artificial Nose (5, Interesting)

allcar (1111567) | about 7 years ago | (#21082531)

Similarly, use of odour in entertainment is way behind the more "mainstream" senses. There are a few museums that have used smell as part of there displays - The Imperial War Museum in London is a good example. The 1st World War trench exhibition uses artificial smells to bring you that delightful blend of excrement and cordite.
However, in general films and games have steered clear of the sense of smell. In gaming, visuals and sound are a given. Vibrating controllers try to deal with the sense of touch. Smell (and taste) have been ignored. As usual, it will probably be porn that leads the way - just think of the possibilities!

Re:Artificial Nose (4, Funny)

phozz bare (720522) | about 7 years ago | (#21082717)

As usual, it will probably be porn that leads the way - just think of the possibilities!
Like, ew?

Re:Artificial Nose (1)

Matt Edd (884107) | about 7 years ago | (#21084325)

Thank you for explaining the joke made by the GP. I don't think anyone would have figured it out on their own.

Re:Artificial Nose (1)

saltydogdesign (811417) | about 7 years ago | (#21084439)

Actually, this might be an opportunity for the business sector to lead. If someone could invent and electric butt, this could be used to automate brown-nosing.

Re:Artificial Nose (4, Interesting)

Mathinker (909784) | about 7 years ago | (#21082555)

It's also probably the sense which has the greatest genetically based phenotypical variation. To put it simply, there's probably more average difference between "normal" individuals' olfactory experiences than those of sight, hearing, taste, and touch.

That might just be because we rely so little on smell, what is accepted as normal has expanded with respect to this sense (as opposed to color-blindness, for example).

Re:Artificial Nose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21084995)

Really? I'm genuinely curious. I have not heard about phenotypic variation, and would be interested in learning more.

I thought that there isn't all that much more genetic variation in olfactory receptor genes than elsewhere in the genome (and the general consensus is that in the apes with color vision, including us, the sense of smell has lost its importance, so much of what variation there is is due to the genes just slowly falling apart).

Re:Artificial Nose (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 7 years ago | (#21082693)

If tech were superior to our pathetic biological vision (including the realtime signal processing around it, of course) I'd be able to point a photo or video camera to a scene and click and have the same result of what mt eyes see. This is not really the case.

On audio we're kind of there though.

Re:Artificial Nose (2, Insightful)

cashdot (954651) | about 7 years ago | (#21082705)

It is off-topic, but I could not resist: I don't think that cameras and microphones have surpassed the human capabilities. Show me a microphone that has the same dynamic range as the human ear. Or a vision system that has the same 'postprocessing' capabilities as our visual cortex. Resolution and sensitivity are not the only performance indicators!

Re:Artificial Nose (1)

cheater512 (783349) | about 7 years ago | (#21083109)

Expensive doesnt mean that it doesnt exist.

Re:Artificial Nose (1)

ceroklis (1083863) | about 7 years ago | (#21082723)

Most of the artificial "nose" tech is just checking for the presence of certain chemicals in the air

You are a genius. In case you didn't know your biological nose does the same. It is almost the definition of "nose".

Re:Artificial Nose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21083123)

That is not quite the same thing, It seems likely that the human nose can detect the presence of non-specific chemicals. That is it can almost examine a chemical and produce a distinctive electro-chemical representation of this chemical. For example humans can produce chemicals now that have never existed before and they will produce a distinctive smell. This is not the same as producing a nose out of many individual sensors designed to detect a specific chemical, if you did this and a new chemical came along you could not smell it.

Re:Artificial Nose (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 7 years ago | (#21083563)

What the poster was trying to get at is that current electronic noses are designed to detect only a narrow range of chemicals, and are unable to detect anything else. For example, an electronic nose which is able to detect the smell of carrots could be brought into a kitchen where someone is frying up some bacon, baking some bread, and wiping up a spill with lemon scented cleanser, and it would not detect a thing. Of course, that's the way they are made. The most common example would be roadside breathalysers, which detect alcohol.

The Caltech nose is designed to be a broad "spectrum" device. It would be able to smell the bacon, bread, and lemon cleanser. Of course, they are not the first. NASA [nasa.gov] has one, as does the University of Warwick [warwick.ac.uk] .

The only question I have is this: If a person who can't see is blind, and a person who can't hear is deaf, what is a person who can't smell called?

Re:Artificial Nose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21083971)

The condition of not being able to smell is called anosmia.

You are welcome :)

Re:Artificial Nose (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | about 7 years ago | (#21084075)

The most common example would be roadside breathalysers, which detect alcohol.

Not really. A breathalyser is not an artifical nose for smelling alcohol.

The only question I have is this: If a person who can't see is blind, and a person who can't hear is deaf, what is a person who can't smell called?

A person who cannot smell is anosmic, or is an anosmiac.

Re:Artificial Nose (1)

Joe Tie. (567096) | about 7 years ago | (#21082955)

I think in large part it's due more to the fact that we really don't have much of a sense of smell when compared to other mammals. It's a bit like a blind cave fish trying to create good tests for vision when that concept is almost totally alien to it.

Re:Artificial Nose (1)

El Lobo (994537) | about 7 years ago | (#21082981)

OTOH there are many studies that prove that our first memories as a child are almost always associated to a certain arome/smell/odor/fragrance/stink, whatever....

Re:Artificial Nose (2, Informative)

crontabminusell (995652) | about 7 years ago | (#21083141)

Vision, that's easy, cameras have sharper resolution than our pathetic biological eyes.
I wondered about this, so I decided to look it up. At http://www.clarkvision.com/imagedetail/eye-resolution.html [clarkvision.com] the writer seems to sum up the topic pretty nicely. It seems that, while our eyes have probably been surpassed by technology when looking at resolution only (think http://www.gigapxl.org/ [gigapxl.org] ), the image processing power of the brain exceeds any of our current technology. I guess our eyes aren't quite obsolete yet. ;)

Re:Artificial Nose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21083891)

Eyes and ears ARE relatively easy*. One big problem with the nose is that while light is just one kind of signal (photons), the nose should detect thousands of different compounds in mixtures and combinations. For most live things, chemical sense is way, way more important than vision (we humans are weird that way). Even in us, genes coding for odorant receptors are by far the largest group of genes (1,000 genes -- about 5% of our genome is just about our nose). So no, it ain't easy.

In practical terms, a good artificial nose would be a VERY big deal -- don't think perfume, think food industry and airport (and container port) threat detection.

*Having said that, even the eyes as just opto-electric devices are not "easy". Among other things, they span 6-7 orders of magnitude of light intensity - not an easy feat. When you start considering that the eyes have much image and motion recognition processing built in, they still beat the hell out of naive CCD devices. That's not even going into more central processing.

Re:Artificial Nose (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | about 7 years ago | (#21083975)

Most of the artificial "nose" tech is just checking for the presence of certain chemicals in the air.

What do you think natural "nose" tech does?

Re:Artificial Nose (1)

cecille (583022) | about 7 years ago | (#21084341)

A few places have tried this type of thing already. One the professors at my university developed an e-nose a while ago mostly to look at emissions from agricultural processes.

paper abstract [ieee.org]

Old news? (4, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | about 7 years ago | (#21082503)

Am I the only person (in the UK) who saw the Tomorrow's World back in the days of Phillipa Forester or earlier where they had something IDENTICAL to this and were "on the verge" of commercialising it.

I seem to remember something about they discovered the material being tested for aircraft use until they realised that the strong odours of a busy airport made the properties of the material change, then they put it into an electronic nose. I also remember a demo where the machine detected the difference between "normal" and "rancid" mayonnaise by smell alone.

It seems that this is one of those inventions that just keeps popping up but nobody ever really finds a commercial use for it that can make all the development costs worthwhile.

Re:Old news? (1)

aproposofwhat (1019098) | about 7 years ago | (#21082731)

Am I the only person (in the UK) who saw the Tomorrow's World back in the days of Phillipa Forester...

When Phillipa was on screen, who cared about the technology?

Re:Old news? (1)

stevey (64018) | about 7 years ago | (#21082733)

True, although Tomorrows World was notorious for two things:

  • Live demonstrations which didn't work.
  • Demonstrations of technology which would be with us "real soon now".

Re:Old news? (1)

funkatron (912521) | about 7 years ago | (#21083129)

You forgot number 3, showing the clip where they demonstrated the CD just to prove that they actually got something right once.

Yup, a decade at least (2, Informative)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 7 years ago | (#21082935)

I actually worked in the lab where they developed the machine. UMIST in Manchester.

They did commercialise it. The technology is used all over the place.

http://chemse.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/30/suppl_1/i252 [oxfordjournals.org]
http://www.wordspy.com/words/noseonachip.asp [wordspy.com]

Of course, I'm sure Caltech can patent it can sue the bastards into oblivion.

 

Re:Old news? (2, Interesting)

OlRickDawson (648236) | about 7 years ago | (#21083221)

I've read about different electronic noses before, yes. My impression of this article is that this is an improved version, with a wider range of detection, and cheaper to make.

Re:Old news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21083253)

I don't recall the TW demo but I know from my own research at the time that electronic noses were kicking around in the early nineties.

Re:Old news? (3, Informative)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | about 7 years ago | (#21083459)

Am I the only person (in the UK) who saw the Tomorrow's World back in the days of Phillipa Forester or earlier where they had something IDENTICAL to this and were "on the verge" of commercialising it.

This is in fact old news. The first publication from this research group regarding chemical sensing was in 1995. I don't think any major breakthroughs have been made recently.

See http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/92/7/2652 [pnas.org]

That's not to say it isn't interesting - I have experience in the chemical sensing field so I think it's cool - but it's definitely not news.

Re:Old news? (1)

kilgortrout (674919) | about 7 years ago | (#21083461)

It's not only in the UK, electronic noses have been around for a long time. I remember seeing one at an alumni event at the Illinois Institue of Technology many years ago:

http://electrochem.cwru.edu/ed/encycl/art-n01-nose.htm [cwru.edu]

And that was a miniaturized, improved one of one that they had built in the 1970s that was about 3 meters long. From what I remember from that tour, what's happened over the years is increasing miniaturization, better sensor arrays and better algorithms for identifying substances. Basically, this is an old technology; a gas chromatograph can be considered an "E-Nose" in the larger sense and CO detector in your home is a specialized form of E-Nose.

Re:Old news? (1)

mindriot (96208) | about 7 years ago | (#21083997)

As some of the other posts indicate, there have been a few approaches to building electronic noses. Another one worth mentioning is the "Karlsruhe Micro-Nose" [www.fzk.de] (PDF, English on pages 3–4) which uses an array measuring conductivity over a temperature gradient, resulting in sensoric fingerprints for different smells (see the examples on page 4).

Hold it in (3, Funny)

doyoulikeworms (1094003) | about 7 years ago | (#21082543)

Because futuristic elevators are going to be really awkward.

Can it smell... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21082547)

...fucking filthy niggers?

Mod me down if you agree.

Smellin' Llewellyn... (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | about 7 years ago | (#21082553)

We got an electronic nose. All I want now is a robotic cow that grows all it's meat back after you slaughter it.

Road Trip (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21082559)

Great, can it be installed in a car to automatically roll down the windows when someone rips one?

But... (1, Redundant)

daniorerio (1070048) | about 7 years ago | (#21082575)

does it run linux?

And if it DOES run Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21082751)

Does it come with an Electronic Handkerchief?

Re:But... (0, Redundant)

jimboindeutchland (1125659) | about 7 years ago | (#21082823)

imagine a beowulf cluster of these!

ok... sorry :/

It would depend... (1)

AltGrendel (175092) | about 7 years ago | (#21083475)

...on how often they reload the Mucus [wikipedia.org] Module (TM).

Application (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21082635)

Cue remark about how this may be used for anti-terr'ism purposes in 3...

2...

1...

Re:Application (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | about 7 years ago | (#21082799)

I have heard stories like this in the past where they are designed to be used by wine makers or perfumiers. Chances are though, they will only come to market when every baggage conveyor belt in every airport needs one.

Re:Application: detect your own body odor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21084215)

people with bad breath, guys that smell like old running shoes could benefit from having an alert device... better than getting cued by disgusted reactions (this is not based on personal experience!)

How does it smell? (1, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 7 years ago | (#21082659)

All together now:

AWFUL!

Re:How does it smell? (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | about 7 years ago | (#21082779)

Boom, Boom.

Required equipment for nerds' computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21082667)

... now the computer will tell when a shower is needed.

Quick , flush the stash ! (1)

amias (105819) | about 7 years ago | (#21082697)

Anyone care to comment on how this has effected marijuana prices on the caltech campus ?

CalTech Creates Electronic Nose.... (0)

ricky-road-flats (770129) | about 7 years ago | (#21082719)

...and Slashdot creates electronic noise...

Medical applications (4, Interesting)

apodyopsis (1048476) | about 7 years ago | (#21082721)

It is well known that dogs keen sense of smell can detect illness and cancers. Lets hope this thing can be turned into something sensitive enough and cheap enough for widespread medical use. This could save lives.

for the interested: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/01/0112_060112_dog_cancer.html [nationalgeographic.com]

Obligatory (1)

ozbird (127571) | about 7 years ago | (#21083597)

"My dog has no nose."

"How does it smell?"

"Terrible!"

Not new. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21082729)

Back in the early 90's, an "electronic nose" was created at the applied physics department at Linköping University, Sweden. One of the researchers were named Anita Spetz, another was Ingemar Lundström.

Robot Rhinotillexis & Rhinoplasty.... (0)

Zymergy (803632) | about 7 years ago | (#21082749)

Great! Now there's gonna be another way to 'pick' your nose... Or is that to 'pick (out)' your Robot's nose?

"You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose." -Unknown

Now they can build the Smelloscope (3, Funny)

Gar0s (323445) | about 7 years ago | (#21082815)

FRY: This is a great, as long as you don't make me smell Uranus. Heh heh.
LEELA: I don't get it.
PROFESSOR FARNSWORTH: I'm sorry, Fry, but astronomers renamed Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all.
FRY: Oh. What's it called now?
PROFESSOR FARNSWORTH: Urectum.

At last! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21082861)

Finally, a use for my new invention, the electric fart.

Re:At last! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21083033)

Let me guess, it's called "electric" because there's a lot of juice in it, right?

One step closer to Lt Cmr Data (2, Interesting)

master_p (608214) | about 7 years ago | (#21082877)

If all the electronic vision/sound/touch/smell data could be put in a computer which had a simple program of recalling reactions according to those data, we could have the foundations for an electronic brain.

And if the reactions are driven to motors which could move body parts, then we are one step closer to making an android.

Electronic Noise (2, Funny)

Esion Modnar (632431) | about 7 years ago | (#21082879)

is what I at first thought they had created. I was not impressed. Then I realized it was an electronic *nose*... Still not impressed.

Re:Electronic Noise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21083507)

I agree. Caltech students have sounded like static to me for years.

Michael Jackson (1)

psychicsword (1036852) | about 7 years ago | (#21082889)

Michael Jackson could use a new one.

Can it smell Cancer (1)

JamesRose (1062530) | about 7 years ago | (#21082937)

I'm serious, dogs can smell some types of cancer (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/01/0112_060112_dog_cancer.html) (including lung cancer) there have been instances of dogs scratching at people's legs, and when they go to doctors there are malignant melanomas. It'd be interesting to see if this can be replicated and used as a medical device.

Re:Can it smell Cancer (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | about 7 years ago | (#21083483)

It'd be interesting to see if this can be replicated and used as a medical device.

It's been done. In most cases the dogs are still far more sensitive, but in some cases the device is still sensitive enough. One exception is detection of biogenic amines, which are markers for kidney failure among other things. For those, specific types of sensors are actually more sensitive than the dogs by a fair margin.

The bad news (1)

ZoneGray (168419) | about 7 years ago | (#21083001)

The good news is, scientists have developed a robotic nose. The bad news is, it's a dog's nose, so it robotically sniffs your butt.

Whoever smelt it, delt it (1)

dynomitejj (1113319) | about 7 years ago | (#21083325)

To be fully functional, does it also generate the odor ?

The ball's in MIT's court. (1)

jpellino (202698) | about 7 years ago | (#21083331)

We can only imagine what they'll build for the CalTech nose to sniff...

Roomba manners (1)

ShannaraFan (533326) | about 7 years ago | (#21083351)

Great. My dog finally stopped sniffing the crotch of everyone who visits my house. Now my Roomba is going to start.

CSI? (1)

setrops (101212) | about 7 years ago | (#21083385)

Didn't I already see this on CSI? nick wanted this new gadget but Grissom said they could not afford it. he ends up using it in a case and in the end Grissom orders it. /shrug

Old news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21083481)

www.appliedsensor.com did this around year 2000.
They had a commercially available machine that could sniff at a sample and tell you what it was. The "nose" was not a commercial success and was discontinued.

Slow news day? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21083485)

First you post the guy who created Pong [slashdot.org] saying games have gone downhill since Pong, and of course, he's opening a restaraunt with tabletop games. It's an incredibly stupid opinion [kuro5hin.org] , the Linked article is one I wrote a few years ago, Growing Up With Computers where I say

Some couple of years later I met my first privately owned computer: a "pong" game a friend had. Yawn. Yes, Pong was as mindlessly boring in 1978 as it is in 2005.
And now this nose thing. here [newscientist.com] is a New Scientist piece about the artificial nose (and it looks from TFA that it wasn't new then, they made an improvement to it) from April.

Are you guys trying to copy the clowns who do "first post" halfway down slashdot's page?

-mcgrew

(laugh dammit)

Re:Slow news day? (1, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#21083919)

FIRST POST!!!

Smell check (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21083535)

Finally something that tells gamers when they need to take a shower :>

Something similar (2, Informative)

curious.corn (167387) | about 7 years ago | (#21083625)

Something similar, the Libra nose [fi.cnr.it] has been developed in Italy, at the University of Rome "Tor Vergata". The article is slim on the transducer CalTech is using...

Not original (1)

jamieswith (682838) | about 7 years ago | (#21083637)

I was working on an almost identical system in the UK literally 10 years ago... and I know we have patents on it... I wonder if they took care of the saturation issues... Still nice to see someone else picking up on the work though...

Re:Not original (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21084211)

you said picking

you know atleast 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21083641)

I wonder how many 'scientist' farted in front of this thing for a chuckle?

I think you may be missing a step here around... (1)

Empiric (675968) | about 7 years ago | (#21084159)

...identify, classify and quantify...

if ((sensor1 > 25)&&(sensor2 > 75))
{
substance1detected = TRUE;
}

...

if (substance1detected)
{
substancearray[1]++;
}

...

call DumpSubtanceList(substancearray);


What's with all the overly-hopeful anthropomorphization lately on Slashdot? I thought this place was more geared toward IT professionals than those likely to be impressed with hype targeting the general public.

Yes, but... (1)

proxy318 (944196) | about 7 years ago | (#21084387)

Can it smell fear?

So tell me... (1)

Taleron (875810) | about 7 years ago | (#21084605)

Will the electronic tongue that can taste be programmed with Lisp?

Oh. No *i*, see? (1)

djasbestos (1035410) | about 7 years ago | (#21084649)

I thought they said "electronic noise" and I was like "I've been doing that for almost 10 years now." I guess I don't have any insight, as I'm not an olfactory maven...

Unwired Input (2, Funny)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 7 years ago | (#21084805)

Where's the cocaine transistor?

Real questions... (1)

pruneau (208454) | about 7 years ago | (#21084935)

To start brazenly: this was the subject of my PhD (e-mail me if you want references) I presented in 96, and this kind of things was already old news at the time, but it's like other subject in science. The press keeps re-"discovering" it now and then.

Now I do not mean to underestimate what was achieved, but the problems we had when I was studying the matter was principally one of sensor drift over time. You can slap a bunch of gas sensors together, study their various reactions to various "odor" stimulus, and even get to identify those with various processing techniques, including neural nets.

But the crux of the problem was that the sensor response varied greatly in time, rendering the signal processing useless over time. Unless a re-calibration of the whole system was done all over again.

Do someone close to the research team (or with enough time to read) knows whether some advances have been made in that direction ?

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